Creative

Poem: Redemption

I went to visit him only yesterday/ After a decade of silent prayers

By Hiba Rasheed

Illustration: Shamail Al Adawi.

My father’s grave
My father’s 17-year-old grave
And I went to visit him only yesterday
After a decade of silent prayers
Tears raging, holding fists at me, for having been finally set free,
Not for a sad movie ending or weight loss frustration
But for a worthy cause fulfilling their ultimate purpose of soul purification

Mental lacerations burned as flashbacks of his sage sayings flashed through like
Love is the essence of life or
White is in the heart, not in the skin
When white kids ridiculed my dark skin
My dark skin, one of my bonds to him


For months, I have been trapped inside my lackadaisical thoughts and lacklustre vision of hope
While electric shocks, emitting toxic waste, coursed through my head
Contaminating my veins
So I became a walking wasteland of shrivelled dreams and shelved faith
But somehow, somehow
In my barren state
My father beckoned to me
After a decade of silent prayers
Water gushed forth through the pores of my desolation
Flooding my senses
Like Zamzam’s answer to Hajer’s desperation
On the holy ground
I then heard the muffled sounds of chains breaking under the wrath of waves
And I remembered
I remembered
His unwavering smile throughout the long nights, coming home late, three jobs, burying his exhaustion under his sleeves to cook us dinner willingly and lovingly
I remembered
His unwavering smile through his tears of joy at our smiles of joy
The “never look up but at less fortunate people so you can be grateful for your blessings,”
The encouragement to be the best that I can
His diabetes, multiple heart attacks
And that last heart failure, that last heart failure which ended his life too soon on an ordinary Thursday night, after dropping us off at the park, young and free, promising to pick us up later but never made it


Baba danced with the wolves around that bonfire called life through kindness, humility, love and that deep, warm, embracing, never-failing smile
Unleashed this cannonball of retrospection 
To remind me that the goodness which was in him is in me too
Six feet deep
Withered remains

Yet his heart still beats in mine


Hiba Rasheed is a UAE-based Sudanese spoken word/slam poet, and three-time winner of the Rooftop Rhythms Slam Poetry Competition in Abu Dhabi. Hiba has performed at a plethora of events and has had her poems published in several online and print magazines; in addition to being featured in several track singles with local producers and rappers. She has released two poetry videos and is currently working on her third project.

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